Robert Whitman

  • Robert Whitman

    I’VE ALWAYS FELT that rather than learn how to, say, program a computer, it’s better to find a programmer and say, “Can you do this?” And sometimes if you find the right person, the answer is, “You know, we could do that”—something you might not have asked for.

    I was working on projects that had to do with reflection and perception and the transmission of light with John Forkner, the optical engineer I collaborated with for the “Art and Technology” exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 1971. I wanted to find a way to reverse spatial relationships, such that what was near

  • Robert Breer


    ROBERT BREER AND I MET IN 1961. I think Billy Klüver introduced us. Bob had been working in Paris, and he had recently come back to America. He lived in Palisades, New York, along the Hudson, with his daughters and his wife, Frannie. We had some very nice parties up there. It was pretty casual, like a little vacation.

    At that time, in ’61, I was doing performances, or what were called Happenings; in ’62, I did a series of these in The Store in downtown New York, and right after that I did a film with Bob during the summer. We decided that it should take place in the Palisades area.


    I PROBABLY MET BOB AROUND 1957. I remember taking him to see Red Grooms’s piece called The Burning Building [1959]. I knew him well enough to say, “I want you to see this thing.” He loved it.

    During the performance days, when Bob was doing work like Pelican [1963], we saw a lot of each other. We were neighbors; at that time, I was downtown on Grand Street, and he was on Broadway, I think. I always liked the challenge of his performances—I found them challenging to me personally. I like the idea of seeing something that I can’t imagine myself. Bob, Claes Oldenburg, and I once each did a piece as